Eye on Oracle

January 31, 2007  3:26 PM

Oracle’s Applications Unlimited event filled with theatrics

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

The Hudson Theater here in New York was a fitting location for Oracle’s U.S.-based Applications Unlimited event given the theatrics surrounding it.

The blaring music and slides with customer quotes extolling the virtue of Oracle products are all pretty standard, but releasing five new products at once is ambitious — or confusing. Given the number of applications Oracle is steering through production, maybe it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Siebel 8.0, J.D. Edwards Enterprise One 8.12, J.D. Edwards A 9.1, PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0 and Oracle E-Business Suite 12, are all being unveiled today with events also taking place in Mexico City, Paris, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Dubai.

Of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without a shot at SAP. Fred Studer, an Oracle executive, took to the stage as MC, and immediately went into attack mode. Feigning an interest in the attendee list, he noted one person from SAP.

“Is Mark here, oh Mark there you are,” he said. “We have a seat up front for you. Oracle’s an open company.”

We’ll be following up with coverage of today’s event later today and coverage of Siebel 8.0 tomorrow.

— Barney Beal, News Director

January 31, 2007  9:41 AM

Rumors a-flyin’

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

What are the advantages of personal blogs over objective news publications that always cite their sources? For one, they’re a reliable source of rumors!

We don’t know, of course, if the rumors are true, but a couple of them went flying around the Oracle blogosphere this week.

The wildest is that Oracle will bid for SAP, its major rival in the enterprise applications space, at a lofty $49.78 per share. Talk of the bid drove SAP to the top of the German stock exchange on Monday.

Naturally, not everyone buys this story. Some dealers doubt that Oracle would be allowed to own 100% of the enterprise apps market. They argue that if Oracle makes a bid for SAP, it will be a low one that will likely be rejected, done only to show the world it could buy out SAP if it wanted to.

Another tidbit from the rumor mill suggests that Oracle may, in a move similar to its Unbreakable Linux plan announced last year, offer full support for the MySQL database management system — undercutting MySQL in the process.

One blogger notes that Unbreakable MySQL might be good for everyone, not just Oracle. Such a move could “embolden the technology, and providers,” according to Oracle + Open Source. “What’s more, those of us implementing technology infrastructure in enterprises know that having one provider for everything isn’t always a good thing.”

Do you think there’s any truth to the buzz? Or are these stories rumors and nothing more?

-Elisa Gabbert, Assistant Editor

January 30, 2007  9:49 AM

ERP DOA thanks to SOA?

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

It seems that every few years, talk emerges that ERP suites are an endangered species, one step away from punch cards. In 2000-2001 it was said that the the death knell of ERP would be the internet, outsourcing or the overall decline of IT spending at that time — take your pick.

The culprit this time? Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Bruce Richardson of AMR Research says categorically that “the rapid adoption of SOA will lead to the end of the ERP market as we know it.” Over at CIO Insight, they repeat the apocalyptic tone:

Integration technologies like Web services and SOA make it easier to integrate disparate applications. That means that companies have less of a need for the kinds of all-in-one enterprise applications that have dominated the back office for decades and can move freely to best-of-breed applications… We could be on the verge of a sea change that will shake up the software industry.

Even vendors are sounding the alarm (at least those with a vested interest in the outcome). Bill Hewitt, CEO of Kalido, writes:

As companies look to a service-oriented future, they are beginning to consider how to integrate and migrate their current architecture. ERP vendors have stepped up their marketing on “SOA-enablement” but have done little to separate the five key layers of IT flexibility: infrastructure, information, security, applications, and the user experience. These layers evolve at different speeds, both in market development and customer deployment, and should be able to be managed independently. Systems integrators will continue to drive up billable hours by hard-wiring existing systems and calling them SOA-enabled. Until ERP vendors truly embrace the reality of a multi-platform world, organizations relying on ERP for SOA will find it impossible to take the next step.

Sure, it makes exciting copy, but does anybody really believe that ERP systems are going away any time soon? That hosted services will overturn years of implementation work and millions of dollars? This incredible investment will give ERP years of momentum, not to mention the ability of ERP vendors like Oracle to “buy innovation” if need be. The new E-Business Suite 12i is on the horizon this year, as is the Fusion suite in 2008. Both are going to be heavily SOA- and SaaS-enabled.

Talk of the death of ERP is certainly premature; perhaps we should just say ERP as we know it may be on its death bed. Let’s wait five years or so, then we’ll re-examine the diagnosis.

Cheers, Tim

January 23, 2007  7:49 AM

Database 11g: Ho-hum or hurray?

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

The newest version of Oracle’s flagship DBMS will be released sometime in 2007. At last autumn’s OpenWorld, Oracle said that Database 11g (still its tentative name) will contain at least 482 new features, including improvements in scalability, data compression, security, parallel upgrades, Flashback and much more. Here is some more detail about the new release:

Around the blogosphere, there’s of course been much discussion about the various new features of 11g. Some of the thought leaders in the community have begun to weigh in, for example:

However, I’ve heard from several people that are underwhelmed by what they’ve seen of 11g so far.  The popular blogger and BI consultant Mark Rittman said:

I couldn’t help feeling underwhelmed by the news of Oracle Database 11g. the “Change Assurance” release …. hmmm. I know when 10g was first announced, it seemed more like 9i Release 3, and there do seem to be some nice new features around caching, partitioning and so on, but 11g doesn’t exactly seem groundbreaking so far, nothing in there particularly to get you all excited.

I know many of you that just upgraded from 9i to 10g, so the last thing on your mind is another nightmare. But which features are you most excited about, if any? Which features would you have liked to see in 11g but aren’t included yet? Or are you waiting until 11g Release 2 before even paying attention? Let me know by responding to this post!

Cheers, Tim

January 19, 2007  11:30 AM

The future of blogs

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

According to a recent article on our sister site, SearchCIO.com, “blogging is so over.”

The article culls predictions from nearly 50 reports to draw a short list of conclusions about coming IT trends. These trends include:

  • The 10 biggest IT outsourcers will experience a 40% dip in market share by 2009.
  • The total cost of owning a PC, on average, will be cut in half by 2010.
  • The blogging craze will peak this year.

This last call, that the future of blogging looks bleak, is counterintuitive — blogging seems to be alive and well. After all, Oracle’s corporate Web site alone hosts dozens of blogs, not to mention the hundreds of independent bloggers out there who are posting their own thoughts and tips about Oracle. Plus, as the article mentions, anyone can do it, and potential readership is virtually unlimited.

According to Gartner, the life span of an average blog is only three months — but maybe this just points to a process of natural selection? Perhaps blogs as a species are evolving, and in time only the fittest will survive, with even more readers due to reduced competition.

What do you think? Is blogging on its way out, or has it only just begun?

– Elisa Gabbert, Assistant Editor

January 17, 2007  3:03 PM

Oracle aims at midsize retailers

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Last week we posted an article detailing two new retail products Oracle was set to release at the National Retail Federation convention in New York City this week. Well, I guess we left one product out. (So sue me.)

In addition to Oracle’s new Retail Promotion Planning and Optimization and Returns Management software — two packages designed to help retailers get more out of special promotions and overcome the problem of fraudulent returns — Oracle also released Oracle Retail Merchandising Standard Edition.

Aimed mainly at midsized retailers, Oracle Retail Merchandising Standard Edition is a slimmed down version of Oracle Retail Merchandising, and Oracle says it’s easier to get up and running than its more robust sister application and similar offerings from competitors like SAP AG.

The Standard Edition package helps retailers handle core merchandising activities such as inventory replenishment, purchasing and vendor management. Oracle says tool sets included with the software make deployment a breeze and let retailers more quickly realize a return on investment.

But I guess that’s for the retailers to decide. And according to one retail industry analyst — Nikki Baird of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. — it could be a little while before they find out because retailers are generally slower than other industries when it comes to adopting new technologies. Looks like Oracle has some selling to do.

For more on Oracle’s activities at this week’s National Retail Federation convention, read this article and stay tuned to our new page.

— Mark Brunelli, News Editor

January 17, 2007  2:01 PM

Don’t use Export for backup and recovery!

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

When one of your professional roles involves helping out Oracle database users the world over, you’re bound to get some repeat questions. That’s certainly the case for SearchOracle.com backup-and-recovery expert Brian Peasland.

Peasland, an independent consultant who volunteers his time answering questions from SearchOracle.com members, and who talked to SearchOracle.com this week about the upcoming Oracle Database 11g, says the one question he gets more often than any other has do with the proper way to conduct Oracle Database back-ups.

“DBAs who are just learning Oracle want to rely on the Export tool as their only means of backup and recovery and unfortunately that is not a great backup and recovery tool,” Peasland explained.

Instead of the Export tool, Peasland says, DBAs should take full advantage of the Oracle tool known as Recovery Manager, or RMAN, for their backup needs.

“RMAN is probably the best, most robust backup and recovery tool supplied with any database out there on the market today and people do not want to use it because they’re afraid of it,” Peasland explained.

According to Peasland, the big problems with Export are that it leaves users with only one recovery option and it doesn’t allow users to recover transactions that have happened since the last backup.

“These sorts of things can be very limiting to many people,” he said.

For all the folks out there thinking about asking Brian how to use Export for backup and recovery, please consider this blog post a preemptive strike. You have your answer: RMAN is the man when it comes to backup and recovery.

Read our new interview with Brian Peasland to get more of his thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics, including the new features of Oracle Database 11g, getting Oracle certified, picking the best PL/SQL editor and locking down Database 10g.

– Mark Brunelli, News Editor

January 12, 2007  1:53 PM

You need more storage — Is it within your power to get it?

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

A new SearchOracle.com article, “DBAs to storage managers: We want more!” highlights the results of a recent Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) survey, which reveals that nearly all DBAs and systems administrators are hungry for more storage. More than nine out of 10 respondents said they expect their storage needs to increase in 2007, and 43% complain that a lack of available storage has led to application rollout delays in the past two years.

The survey also called attention to the changing role of the DBA in regards to storage. More and more, the roles of those on the database and systems side are converging with the roles of those on the storage side. Results indicate that now, over 60% of DBAs oversee day-to-day storage decisions.

Readers, we want to hear your thoughts on this. If you’re a DBA or sys admin, how much say do you have in storage decisions at your company? Do you have more or less control over storage than you did a few years ago? If storage capacity is largely in your hands, do you think this helps prevent the common problems caused by storage shortages, like rollout delays, slow backups and decreased database performance?

Feel free to leave comments right here at the blog, or email your opinions directly to me.


January 11, 2007  10:55 AM

Oracle SQL Developer vs. Toad: Users speak out

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

A recent SearchOracle.com article that compared the latest version of Oracle’s free SQL Developer tool with Quest Software Inc.’s popular Toad for Oracle software triggered an avalanche of emails from database developers eager to voice their opinions on which SQL and PL/SQL editing and debugging tool is best.

A few named Oracle’s relatively new SQL Developer as their tool of choice while several picked Toad. Others preferred different developer tools altogether. In particular, Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer got some rave reviews. But in the midst of all the differing opinions, developers seemed to agree on one thing: When it comes to features and functionality, you get what you pay for.   

SQL Developer disappointing to some

SQL Developer was unveiled last March, and Oracle says the tool has been downloaded over 390,000 times since. Developers familiar with version 1.0 said that, like many free tools, SQL Developer lacks the robust set of capabilities found in competing for-a-fee SQL editors. Others, like developer Shelby Spradling, principal of Spradling Consulting, say that even though they’re happy to have a SQL editor that is optimized for use with Oracle products, SQL Developer still isn’t ready for prime time.

Spradling said that he recently compiled a PL/SQL package with only a few warnings from SQL Developer. He soon realized, when he tried to execute the package and it went into an invalid state, that SQL Developer had failed to pick up on a number of other errors. The consultant found the remaining errors only after copying the PL/SQL procedure into Oracle’s SQL*Plus tool.

“While I love being able to finally step through PL/SQL code with an Oracle product, I’ll truly start to enjoy using this product in five years when they get it working,” Spradling said. “Until then, Textpad and SQL*Plus are about the quickest way given my particular constraints.”

But not everyone is as disappointed as Spradling. Alex Rodriguez, a senior accounting analyst with UPS Freight, said SQL Developer suits his needs just fine. He says he switched to SQL Developer from Toad because it’s free, it offers everything he needs to debug SQL and PL/SQL subprograms, and, because it’s an Oracle product, it’s prone to reflect new Oracle feature updates well before third-party competitors.

Toad seen as pricey but effective

Toad for Oracle is offered in both a slimmed-down free version and a considerably more robust version that doesn’t come cheap, according to developers.

Independent contractor and software developer Nick Gekas is a big fan of the full-featured Toad for Oracle despite the cost. He says the main benefits of Toad include its function key capabilities, which show pop-up lists of tables or columns, and its powerful PL/SQL debugger. Gekas also likes that Toad can export SQL output in several formats and gives users the opportunity to arrange screen layouts to their preferred liking. He added that creating and maintaining objects is also a simple process with Toad.

“[Toad] is very expensive,” Gekas said, “so I switch around between Toad and SQL Developer depending [on whether] my clients have a Toad license.”

James R. Bower, an Oracle database administrator with FiberMark North America Inc. in West Springfield, Mass., agrees that for-a-fee Toad is a very full-featured — and very expensive — product.

“I find myself recommending Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer to any users that do not require all of the bells and whistles of Toad, or who cannot fit Toad into their budget,” Bower said. “Obviously, free Toad is priced right, but it is not nearly the product that PL/SQL Developer is.”

PL/SQL Developer: An unsung hero? 

Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer is a solid product that’s not too pricey and not too heavy on the extra features, according to several developers writing in to SearchOracle.com. 

Some, like Alan Kirchoff, a senior Oracle developer with Corporate Lodging Consultants Inc., believe that PL/SQL Developer is actually superior to the more fully featured Toad.

“A tool that never gets much recognition is PL/SQL Developer,” Kirchoff said. “Toad locks up on me way too often and sometimes it doesn’t behave as if it’s truly threaded — and yes, I checked all the options.”

Kirchoff says he likes PL/SQL Developer because it rarely locks up. But if it does, it prompts the user to load a rescue file the next time it starts up, he said. The Oracle developer is also a fan of PL/SQL Developer’s program windows, which highlight important variables and sections of code.

PL/SQL developer also offers a “great” object browser with editable filters, a side-by-side tool that allows users to compare database instances, the ability to compile all invalid objects with one click of the mouse, and a useful explain plan tool that automatically parses results, according to Mark S. Jacobs, a senior programmer with Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The programmer adds that Allround Automations’ support team is second to none.

“I always get a reply the same day, and they have included fixes in the next release at my request,” Jacobs said.

Honorable mentions

The list of SQL and PL/SQL editing and debugging tools is lengthy to say the least. Lesser-known tools developers wrote about included Embarcadero’s DBArtisan and Benthic Software’s Golden and Goldview tools.

“I’ve always liked Embarcadero’s DBArtisan best of all,” said developer David Bailey. “It has equivalent capabilities to Quest’s Toad, but best of all it is multi-platform.”

The fact that DBArtisan is multi-platform means that Bailey can work with Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase or IBM DB2, but he only has to learn one interface.

Developer Gene Gotimer says he doesn’t need all of Toad’s features, and therefore opted for Benthics Golden and Goldview software.

“Toad might be great if you’re a DBA or need a does-everything-and-then-some tool,” Gotimer said. “But for a developer that only occasionally needs to play with the database, Golden and Goldview are easier, quicker and cheaper.”

January 9, 2007  12:08 PM

Welcome to the new SearchOracle.com blog!

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Updated several times a week, SearchOracle.com’s Eye on Oracle blog will include an entertaining and informative mix of observations, opinion, anecdotes, commentary and insights about the Oracle community, blogosphere, conferences and trade shows, trends, buzzwords and anything else that strikes our fancy.

The cast of characters that will be blogging includes:

  • Tim DiChiara – Senior Editor, SearchOracle.com
  • Mark Brunelli – News Editor, SearchOracle.com
  • Elisa Gabbert – Assistant Editor, SearchOracle.com
  • Barney Beal – News Director, TechTarget

We look forward to hearing from readers, so don’t be shy about voicing your opinions! And let us know if you’re interested in becoming a guest blogger.

– Tim, Mark, Elisa & Barney

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